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Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; 1St Edition edition (June 2, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031227856X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312278564
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #651,649 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Meera Syal's second novel features a trio of close and somewhat unlikely childhood friends. Sunita, a former law student and activist, has married her university sweetheart Akash, and is settled into a life of overweight, underappreciated motherhood. Tania is a raven-maned beauty who's rejected marriage and anything traditionally Asian for a high-flying TV career and a compliant Indophile boyfriend. And then there's Chila. Innocent, kind, funny Chila, with her simple soul and her glass animal collection, has just, to everyone's amazement, snared Deepak--the "most eligible bachelor within a twenty-mile radius."

A comedienne and actress as well as the author of the prize-winning Anita and Me, Syal expertly steers her characters through what we might call middle youth--that emotional roller coaster of an age when the real growing up is done. Everywhere her trademark wit and sensitivity are on display. There's the inevitable bitching at the wedding: "Now the sister is howling. I'd howl if I had a moustache like hers..." Then, after the ceremony, come the traditional tears:

Tissue-clutching matriarchs reattached themselves to harrumphing husbands, reaffirming their bonds to each other and the watching world. Single girls clucked in feverish groups, high on the drama of the departure, tossing their fancy dupattas at the single men, torn between the horror and the longing of it all.
What comes after that, alas, is infidelity and envy and betrayal. True to its stoic title, Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee encompasses not only the strengths but the limits of female friendship. Yet the author retains her sense of humor and cross-cultural irony to the very end. One final note: if you're pregnant and have set your heart on natural childbirth, avoid pages 72 and 73. Or else book that elective cesarean and painkilling cocktail. Now. --Lisa Gee --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

The multitalented Syal, an award-winning TV/screenwriter and U.K. actress, tells a compassionate, resonant tale of culture clash, Indian identity and friendship in her smoothly executed second novel (her first, Anita and Me, won a Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for the Guardian Fiction Prize). With spot-on cinematic sensibility and laugh-out-loud dialogue, Syal charts the lives of three 30-something Indian women, friends since childhood, living in contemporary London. Sunita, a former activist law student, is a depressed, overweight housewife and mother of two, and Tania has rejected the traditional arranged marriage for a high-powered career in TV, an apartment in trendy Soho and a Caucasian live-in boyfriend. Chila, whom the other two consider simple, is marrying Deepak, "bagging not only a groom with his own teeth, hair, degree and house, but the most eligible bachelor within a 20-mile radius." All three women struggle with living in two cultures: the Indian world in which a woman's worth is largely measured by her husband's stature, and modern British culture, where self-realization and careerism dominate. Told from alternating points of view, the novel describes, with clarity and resonance, the cultural collision that occurs when Tania makes a brash documentary on relationships, using her friends as subjects and presenting them in an unflattering light. After an incident between Tania and Deepak at the screening inflames the situation, the trio's lifelong friendship is further imperiled. Syal handles many serious issues, including a death, a birth, a kidnapping and an extramarital affair or two, with wit and precision. A kind of Bridget Jones' Diary meets The Buddha of Suburbia, the novel poignantly captures the core of its characters with lusty brio and keen intelligence. 5-city author tour. (June) FYI: Syal's film and TV scripts include Bhaji on the Beach and My Sister Wife. She co-writes and stars in the British hit comedy series Goodness Gracious Me, which last year was nominated for an International Emmy.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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I bought this book in july 2000 and since then I've read it thrice.
"reenar"
This is a book about modern Indian women living in Britain and their struggle to assymilate two very different cultures.
Leigh Munro
Meera Syal has written a thoroughly entertaining book that has a great story.
linda sackstein

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the few books that actually keeps the reader interested from beginning to end. The main characters - Tania, Sunita, Chila, and their husbands, boyfriends and family members - are very insightful and well written. The scenes in the book are so vividly described in a way I can actually see the narrative happening in my mind. I also like how the author uses originality and suspense to keep the story line going. This is a trait that is so hard to find in many novels these days. The surprises were so shocking, I couldn't put down the book for no long amount of time, fearing that I would miss something! I read this 332-page book in two days, which is record time for me. I also liked this book because the author talks about issues that Indian women don't discuss outside of their communities, such as sexuality, interracial dating, marriage, careers, friendship, family and cultural norms. Though I am not Indian myself, I was able to relate to some of the dilemmas the author brings up. This is a great book to read if one is interested in learning more about Indian culture in the United Kingdom. I loved her last book, Anita and Me, and I look forward to reading publications from her in the future!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Leigh Munro on February 11, 2002
Format: Paperback
As regular readers of my reviews will know (!!), I love novels about India. This is a book about modern Indian women living in Britain and their struggle to assymilate two very different cultures. I have many Indian friends, and the women portrayed in this novel are very typical. This novel is also extremely funny with very vivid and lovable characters but underneath it all their stories are very poignant. This would be a great book for discussion in a Book Circle.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By linda sackstein on August 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Meera Syal has written a thoroughly entertaining book that has a great story. Her characters are real and believable and her descriptions of people, places and especially movements are outstanding. e.g. "she swooped down like an epileptic bat". What I liked best about this writer is her wonderful use of the English language. If you would like to read a good story beautifully written, get hold of this book as soon as you can.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By desi-pardesi on May 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
Growing up in a traditional Paksitani household, our mother frequently used the phrase that is this book's title - life isn't all ha ha hee hee. I knew somewhat what she meant, this book however makes it blatantly obvious. Syal does an excellent job in exploring the depths of the various characters and while reading (i could not put the book down!) you are reminded of people you know and even of yourself - or at least parts of yourself. This book reminds us that there are many faces to being 'desi'. When you start thinking of how your life "should be" because of upbringing/cultural standards/expectations - this book reminds you that all of these thoughts are self-imposed. And when you start to wonder if it is better on the other side of the fence remember - life isn't all ha ha hee hee there either.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S. Vohra on November 18, 2003
Format: Paperback
Life isn't all ha ha hee hee starts with a wedding and ends with a funeral ... and just that shows us how carefully Meera Syal takes us into the lives of 3 friends with their joys and sorrows.
I liked this novel because first of all it is very well written, lots of times I found myself laughing ... that might be as well because I could relate to the characters, being myself of Indian origins and having seen the Indian communities in London.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sushma Raman on November 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Meera Syal's book "Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee" captures the life of three childhood friends who are Indian living in Britain - each with different trajectories in her adult life. It is well written and easy to read. The female characters come alive on the pages through dialogue, descriptions, and their environment. However, the male characters are typically backdrops - little understood, difficult to empathize with. I loved reading it and finished it in one setting.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 4, 2003
Format: Paperback
Wonderful. I found it particularly poignant at this stage in my life, where I'm a similar age to these ladies (early to mid 30s). The book had some laugh-out-loud HILARIOUS portions, some which those who have grown up around Indians find particularly witty, but plenty of laughs that crossed all cultures and apply to all women. This book also had some poignant topics and discussions, evoking anger towards a few characters (from me), But, as I followed the characters through the book, they come to terms with certain aspects of themselves. I realized especially how easy it is for me to judge... and forget that we are all prone to making stupid decisions in love and friendship alike... but that your roots, your upbringing, your family structure, and your foundation that will determine how you recover from it. A WONDERFUL book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By IqJones on November 2, 2003
Format: Paperback
Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee was so engrossing that I missed my stop and had to walk about a mile more, and I was only upset that it took me that much longer to get back to reading! I highly recommend it, especially if you have any interest in cross-cultural relations, or just in human experiences.
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